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Exporting Kiwi culture, one Xero at a time

Posted 3 weeks ago in Xero news by Craig Walker
Posted by Craig Walker

Working for a New Zealand company in the United States has given our founding CTO and Executive General Manager, Payments & Billing Solutions, Craig Walker, a unique perspective on what makes Xero stand out in the global market.

“In a way, we’ve exported the Kiwi culture to the rest of the world,” Craig says. “Having spent the past eight years in San Francisco and New York, I’ve encountered many people working for US companies who seem to operate in corporate cultures of hierarchy and fear. Xero is different. We are characteristically Kiwi. We value kindness, transparency and community. They’re as critical to our success as building beautiful small business software.”

Xero has 2,700 employees globally and growing. Craig believes it’s our natural desire to travel that has allowed Xero to spread its Kiwi magic.

“New Zealanders like to stretch our wings and explore the world. Some of this has to do with wanting to experience life beyond a set of beautiful islands at the bottom of the earth. So being able to give our people the opportunity to travel as our business grows is a wonderful perk and important for us to retain the best talent.

“This includes opportunities for New Zealanders to move abroad as well as giving those from other countries a chance to try Kiwi life, because they realise they can have a world-class tech career in Auckland or Wellington.”

According to Craig, being a New Zealander is a competitive advantage. “There’s an entrepreneurial side to Kiwis that often surprises foreigners,” he says. “It’s part of our national DNA, in a way, to be both forward-thinking and welcoming. These traits work together to produce companies that are open to testing ideas and customer-obsessed, which is critical in software-based businesses.”

Xero also boasts a relatively flat corporate culture. “Obviously there is value in hierarchy to some degree once an organisation reaches a certain size,” Craig says. “But Xero remains quite flat. You can talk directly to the CEO if you want to – in fact, he welcomes it!”

Attracting the world’s best talent also means providing them with the tools and support to do the best work of their lives. This includes, among other perks, flexible work locations and schedules.

“The ability to work remotely at least part of the time is now table stakes for tech companies. So is openness to modified work hours to accommodate family life changes. Xero offers both, and it’s helped us scale at a rapid pace. We’re just lucky that Xero was born in the cloud, so we’ve never had to worry about physical infrastructure.”

Craig understands first-hand the importance to engineers and designers of building products that are useful, scalable, and beautiful. “Solving problems for millions of people is not something every developer gets the opportunity to do from day one,” he says. “But it’s important for those of us in management at Xero to offer this to our teams early on.

“After all, you’re not going to stick around just for the excellent coffee,” Craig says, acknowledging that a good espresso is a Kiwi obsession and an office perk at Xero’s corporate campuses. “But rather the entire package of impact, culture, mobility and growth.”

We’re currently expanding our design and engineering teams. So if you’re looking for a challenge in a fast-growing global tech company, it’s a great time to join Xero. Find out more about our engineering roles in Australia and New Zealand.

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